The US green-lit the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine late Friday, paving the way for millions of vulnerable people to receive their shots in the world’s hardest-hit country.
President Donald Trump immediately released a video on Twitter, where he hailed the news as a “medical miracle” and said the first immunizations would take place “in less than 24 hours.”
It comes as infections across America soar as never before, with the grim milestone of 300,000 confirmed deaths fast approaching.
The US is now the sixth country to approve the two-dose regimen, after Britain, Bahrain, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico.
The move came earlier than expected and capped a day of drama after it was widely reported that the White House had threatened to fire Food and Drug Administration chief Stephen Hahn if he did not grant emergency approval Friday.
Trump’s intervention reinserts politics into the scientific process, which some experts have said could undermine vaccine confidence.
The US is seeking to inoculate 20 million people this month alone, with long-term care facility residents and health care workers at the front of the line.
The government also said Friday that it is buying 100 million more doses of the Moderna vaccine candidate, amid reports the administration passed on the opportunity to secure more supply of the Pfizer jab.
The purchase brings its total supply of Moderna doses to 200 million, enough to immunize 100 million people with the two-shot regimen that could be approved as early as next week.
Both frontrunners are based on mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid), a major victory for a technology that had never previously been proven.
Two other vaccine candidates stumbled Friday: France’s Sanofi and Britain’s GSK said their vaccine would not be ready until the end of 2021.
In Peru, clinical trials of a vaccine made by Chinese drug giant Sinopharm were suspended after neurological problems were detected in a test volunteer.
And in Australia the development of a vaccine at the University of Queensland was abandoned Friday after clinical trials produced a false positive HIV result among subjects involved in early testing.
– Sputnik mix –
The mixed news on the vaccine front came as infections accelerated fast in North America and parts of Africa but started to stabilize in Europe and drop in Asia and the Middle East.
Around the world, more than 1.58 million lives have been lost to Covid-19, according to an AFP tally from official sources.
Brazil on Friday crossed 180,000 deaths, despite President Jair Bolsonaro’s insistence the crisis was at the “tail end.”
But across the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand, which has been praised for its handling of the virus, took its first tentative steps towards reopening its borders with the tiny Cook Islands.
Less good news arrived in South Korea — a country previously held up as a model of how to combat the pandemic — which reported its highest daily number of new cases so far, with a surge centered around Seoul sparking fears the country could lose control of the spread.
Officials there announced 950 new infections after several days reporting numbers ranging from about 500 to 600.
And in China, where the virus first emerged a year ago but has since been brought under control, two cities on the border with Russia reported one local infection each, sparking mass tests in both and a full lockdown in one of them.
Countries that have approved the Pfizer-BioNTech jab meanwhile were preparing for rollout, as the World Health Organization warned of a potentially grim Christmas season.
Following Britain’s lead, the first vaccine shipments to 14 sites across Canada are scheduled to arrive Monday with people receiving shots a day or two later.
Israel, which accepted its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday, is targeting a rollout on December 27.
And Hong Kong said Friday it had struck deals for two vaccines — one from Pfizer and the other from Beijing-based Sinovac — with plans to launch a campaign in early 2021.
A new combined approach is also being tested by AstraZeneca, whose Russian operation said it would mix its shot with the locally-made Sputnik V vaccine in clinical trials.
Russia and China have already begun inoculation efforts with domestically produced vaccines that have seen less rigorous vetting.
EU countries are eagerly awaiting clearance on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, in late December and early January respectively.
– Carbon down –
As Europe’s surge eases off slightly, France is planning to lift a six-week lockdown from Tuesday but impose a curfew from 8.00 pm, including on New Year’s Eve.
Greece also announced new plans Friday to slash quarantine time for incoming travelers and reopen churches for Christmas.
But Switzerland, which is seeing a sharp resurgence in cases, announced a 7:00 pm curfew for shops, restaurants and bars.
While lockdowns have brought economic pain, boredom, and myriad other woes, the effect on the environment have been more positive.
Carbon emissions fell a record seven percent in 2020 as countries imposed lockdowns, according to the Global Carbon Project.
Benue governor, Ortom tests positive for COVID-19
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
The governor’s media aide, Terver Akase who disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday also informed that the result turned positive after a close aide also returned positive in the last few weeks.
The Chief Press Secretary noted that Governor Ortom did not show any symptoms of the disease but has already commenced treatment as prescribed by medical personnel.
He, thereafter called on those who came in contact with the governor for a COVID-19 test and ascertain their status.
The close aides to the governor who have so far tested positive include his orderly, his ADC, one of the DSS operatives attached to the governor, his principal private secretary, his Senior Special Assistant on Protocol, and the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance.
Governor Ortom urged Benue people to continue to observe the protocol for the prevention of the virus such as wearing face masks, use of sanitizers, regular hand washing and physical distancing.
The governor also encouraged residents of the state not to be afraid of going for the COVID-19 test as only doing so would help in containing the spread of the disease.
On July 4, 2020, the wife of Benue State Governor, Eunice Ortom tested positive for COVID-19.
“A few moments ago this evening, I received my result from the tests earlier carried out on me by NCDC personnel on routine screening at Government House, Makurdi which returned that I, my son, and some staff are COVID-19 positive.
“We have from this moment, gone into total isolation as required by the protocol and would immediately begin the management treatment as advised by medical experts,” she said.
The First Lady maintained that her son and some Government House staff who were infected by the virus, went into total isolation and commenced treatment.
Nigerian trado-medicine practitioner claimed to have found complete cure for COVID-19
Amid COVID-19 scare, a good news has just came forth, as a Nigerian trado-medicine practitioner, Alhaji Sulaiman Lawal, disclosed that the solution to the pandemic was at hand, adding that his NAFDAC-approved herbal products have cured no fewer than 500 COVID-19 patients both in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
According to Lawal, his medicine, “One Stone COVID Herbal Capsule” has the efficacy to cure COVID-19 and other related diseases.
The Ogbomoso-born trado-medicine practitioner emphasized that with “One Stone COVID Herbal Capsule”, he has treated over 500 patients across the world.
Aside COVID-19 drugs, he has also manufactured drugs that could cure asthma, diabetes,tuberculosis, cancer, liver and kidney problems, hypertention, hypotension, among others.
Lawal, who claimed he inherited the knowledge from his father at a tender age, said he was among the herbal traditional practitioners that were contacted by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Resarch and Development (NIPRID) in Abuja and other government agencies for solutions to some dreaful ailments.
Apart from curing the deadly virus, parts of the capacities of the drug, “One Stone COVID Herbal Capsule”, according to Lawal, include: antioxidant function, immune booster, efficacy to cure and prevent the airborne viruses.
He attributed the spread of the pandemic to the government’s inability to properly engage and trust the trado-medicine’s efficacy.
“The government has failed to acknowledge the efficacy of trado-medicine in providing adeqaute solutions to the virus and other deadly diaeases. I don’t really blame the government. It is due to the influx of fake herbal medicine practitioners who are hyping their junks.
“They hype their products in order to feather their own nests. For instance, my products are approved by the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control.”
While lauding the government for their efforts so far, Lawal, who is the Egbeji of Ogbomoso land, however, informed that he is open to negotiation at the beck and call of the government, organisations, private entrepreneurs, and individuals to weed off COVID-19.
53 Health Workers In Edo Infected With COVID-19
Edo State Government on Thursday disclosed that no fewer than 53 healthcare workers have been infected with the COVID-19 virus since the federal government declared a second wave of the pandemic in December.
The State COVID-19 Incident Manager, Dr. Andrew Obi, who disclosed this during a meeting of the State Taskforce on Covid-19, chaired by Governor Godwin Obaseki, also revealed that the state had recorded eight new cases and one death in the last 24 hours and added that the government will soon roll out more measures to halt the virus’ spread.
“We have, in the last 24 hours, recorded 8 new coronavirus cases and 1 new death.
“240 samples were collected from the various screening and testing centres across the state.
“As of today, Thursday, January 14, 2021, we have 238 active cases of the virus in the state.
“Since the second wave of the deadly disease, Edo State has recorded 447 confirmed cases out of which 53 are health workers. The State has also recorded 202 recoveries and 12 deaths from the disease”, Obi submitted.
He cautioned residents to observe all precautionary measures to guard against the spread of the infectious disease, including compulsory and proper use of face masks, regular handwashing with soap under running water and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, observe physical distancing measures, and limit social events.
The Incident Manager urged residents with any COVID-19 symptoms to contact the Edo Emergency Operation Centre on the toll-free number 08003625000 for assistance or their nearest health facility.
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